August 16/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani


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Bible Quotations
Woe to the world because of stumbling-blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the Stumbling-block comes
Matthew 18/06-10: "‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of stumbling-blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling-block comes! ‘If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into the hell of fire. ‘Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven."
Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 15-16/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on August 15-16/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 15-16/18

The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on August 15-16/18

Lebanese Army Says Troops Injured By IDF While On Patrol
Jerusalem Post /August 15/18
According to the Lebanese army the two soldiers were targeted with smoke grenades and suffered from smoke inhalation. The Lebanese army accused Israel of injuring two soldiers who were on patrol along the border fence Tuesday morning. According to the Lebanese army, the two soldiers were targeted with smoke grenades and suffered from smoke inhalation near the town of Rmaich across the border from the Israeli communities of Netua and Dovev. “As a patrol from the Intelligence Directorate was inspecting a land lot... it came under an attack from a patrol belonging to the Israeli enemy,” the Lebanese news site Naharnet quoted an army statement as saying. The army said IDF troops “hurled six smoke grenades, which resulted in suffocation injuries of two agents and a blaze that spread into the occupied territories. A Lebanese army patrol and members of the liaison unit of the UN. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the Civil Defense immediately arrived on the scene and worked on dousing the blaze on the Lebanese side of the border.”An IDF spokesman confirmed the incident to The Jerusalem Post and said troops fired the smoke grenades toward “suspicious individuals” who had been identified approaching the border fence with Lebanon in order to keep them away from Israeli territory. Israel and Hezbollah fought a deadly 33-day war in 2006, which came to an end under UN Security Council Resolution 1701. That resolution called for disarmament of Hezbollah, withdrawal of the Israeli army from Lebanon and deployment of the Lebanese army and an enlarged UN force in the South. Last week Maj.-Gen. Stefano Dal Col assumed command of the peacekeeping mission, taking over from Irish Armed Forces Maj.-Gen. Michael Beary. Dal Col will be tasked with keeping the quiet along the border with more than 10,000 UN troops deployed in southern Lebanon. Since 2006, hostilities have been limited to occasional firing across the border and reported air strikes by Israel against Hezbollah leaders and military equipment in Syria, where the group is fighting in support of President Bashar Assad.
In 2015, two IDF soldiers were killed and seven wounded after Hezbollah fired anti-tank missiles toward an unarmored military vehicle in the Har Dov area near the Lebanese border. It is believed that five Kornet anti-tank missiles were fired by the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist group in retaliation for an air strike in Syria that killed seven Hezbollah operatives a week earlier.
While the border with Lebanon has been relatively quiet since then, the IDF nonetheless sees it as the most explosive border region, with troops ready for the quiet to end at any instant. In a televised speech given Tuesday night at an event in the Beirut suburb of al-Janubiyya to mark 12 years since the last war between the two enemies, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said the group is in “a stronger position than ever since its founding” and that is stronger than the Israeli army.  “Twelve years Israel has threatened to go to war. At the same time, it talks about the strengthening of the resistance in Lebanon and its capabilities so much that one of the senior officers in Israel said Hezbollah is the second-most powerful army in the region after the IDF,” he said, referring to recent comments made by a senior IDF officer last week. “Let me tell this senior officer: ‘Hezbollah is stronger than the Israeli army, the resistance in Lebanon is stronger than the Israeli army in capabilities, in experience and courage. We are totally confident in our faith today. We are ready to sacrifice a lot more than their army. We are confident in our victory more than any other time.”  The border area with Lebanon has been flagged by the IDF as vulnerable to enemy infiltrations, and Israel’s military believes the next war with Hezbollah will see the terrorist group trying to bring the fight to the home front by infiltrating Israeli communities to inflict significant civilian and military casualties.
UK, US, Lebanese Army Inaugurate Land Border Training Facility, Discuss Border Security
Naharnet/August 15/18/As part of his farewell meetings as British Ambassador to Lebanon, Hugo Shorter attended the High Level Steering Committee, with US Ambassador Elizabeth Richard and the Lebanese Army’s Commander General Joseph Aoun at the new Land Border Training Center at Rayak, a press release said on Wednesday. The discussions focused on the Lebanese Army’s efforts to secure 100% of the Lebanese-Syrian border by 2019. During the meeting, Ambassador Shorter inaugurated the Land Border Training Center at Rayak. This Centre will support the Land Border regiments deployed along the totality of the Lebanese borders with Syria. The UK has committed over £60 million to this project in recent years, alongside significant contributions from the US and other international donors.
Noting the extensive success of the Lebanese Armed Forces, Ambassador Shorter congratulated LAF Commander on the upcoming anniversary of Fajr el Jouroud which saw the defeat of Daesh in Lebanon, and reaffirmed the UK’s support to the Lebanese Armed Forces as the sole defender of Lebanon, providing security to all citizens including near-border communities. After the meeting Ambassador Shorter said: ‘It has always been a privilege to meet the Commander of the Lebanese Army General Joseph Aoun and discuss progress on the UK’s Land Border Project. It has been a privilege to serve as ambassador to Lebanon for three incredible years. I have seen firsthand how the army has continued to transform over this period. It is a respected and professional army that has shown its ability to protect Lebanon from the biggest regional and internal threats and challenges. I am pleased that the UK and the US will continue helping the LAF construct and equip additional Protected Border Observation Posts and Forward Operating Bases to support the Land Border Regiments deliver their mission – maintaining security within Lebanon. The UK has been a true friend and ally of the LAF. Since the start of the Syrian crisis in 2011, the UK has invested more than £60 million in support of stability. We’ve worked on the establishment of four Land Border Regiments deployed along the border from north to south, provided training and mentoring for thousands of troops, and selected the LAF’s brightest and best to study at our finest military institutions. This can only confirm the strength and effectiveness of this institution. The UK is proud to be a key partner and ally to the Lebanese Army’.

Lebanon's Mountains Offer Cool Refuge from Mideast Heat
Associated Press/Naharnet/August 15/18/
The passengers' chatter on the Beirut-bound flight was far from reassuring. Taxi drivers were striking. Traffic was going to be bad. Add the heat and suffocating humidity of a typical summer day and you're hit with a powerful urge to get out of town.
The mountains? Absolutely.
Whether during war or peace, Lebanon's high mountain ranges have long been a favorite refuge for Lebanese living in cities, towns and villages along the Mediterranean coastline.
"If anything happens here (in the mountains) now, then it's probably the end of the world," said 24-year-old old hotelier Elyse Salamah. Just a short drive from Beirut, the mountains offer an escape from summer heat and, for those with deep pockets, a place to ski in winter.
Others make the trip in pursuit of culinary bliss: the perfect tabbouleh, the ultimate hummus or the divine pastry kunafeh. The mountains saw some of the worst battles of Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war. But they have also served as a safe haven from conflict, including the 2006 war between the Shiite Hezbollah group and Israel, when tens of thousands fled there to escape the month of fighting and bombardment. My destination was Faraya, a ski resort high enough — 1,850 meters (6,000 feet) above sea level — to be sufficiently cool in July.
It took nearly an hour and a half to drive the 50-kilometer (30-mile) route, winding around sharp mountain curves. The moment I stepped out of the car at my destination — a small family-run hotel — I knew I made the right decision. The temperature was a pleasant 22 C (72 F), noticeably cooler than Beirut along with a just fraction of the capital's humidity.
But what does one do in a ski resort in summer?
Not an awful lot, to be honest. But you can hike on nature trails if you feel up to it. One trek takes you up to an imposing, 23-meter (75-foot) statue of St. Charbel, a 19th-century saint revered by Lebanon's Maronite Christians. A hooded monk, he raises a hand in blessing over the landscape of mountains, barren in the summer, snow-covered in winter. Or you can drive around the surrounding hills in a quad (all-terrain vehicle) or just swim and sunbathe at any of the many small pools in the village, which charge a fee for a day's use.
But if you are a big city boy like myself — my hometown, Cairo, is a city of 20 million with the unflattering distinction of being among the world's most polluted cities — then a short break in Faraya offers a rare opportunity to kick back, relax and savor Lebanese food.
And the village offers visitors unique little experiences you rarely encounter in big city life. Like most other mountain villages, almost all hotels and restaurants in Faraya are family run, so staying there has a personal feel. From where I sat in my hotel's dining room, I could hear the chef, Mahmoud Mohammed, in the kitchen cooking, chopping the onions and parsley for my tabbouleh. And at every meal, he came out to discuss the food with me.
"The vegetables you just ate I picked from our kitchen garden today," the chef boasted one evening after serving a light dinner of tabbouleh and hummus. "I spent years spying on experienced chefs while they cooked. I have my own secrets now and I make sure that no one is watching when I cook."Or, take the woman running the local supermarket. When I asked her, "Are these strawberries grown in Lebanon?" she clearly thought it was a silly question. "Yes, they come from my back garden," she declared.
Go to a restaurant in the center of the village and you can be sure you'll find three generations of family involved in running it — usually the grandfather cooking, the daughter or son waiting tables and the grandchildren glued to smart phones between running errands.
One thing visitors must remember when in Faraya, which is on the Matn mountains range, that this is not the Swiss or French Alps with tourist-poster landscapes. In the summer, the mountains around Faraya are dry and treeless. And all through Lebanon's mountains, there are the infrastructure woes that plague the country. But don't focus too much on the litter on roadsides or in some of the mountain streams. Don't complain too much about the quality of the running water in your hotel room (drink only bottled water). The country's economic problems also mean the mountains are dotted with half-finished structures meant to be hotels or holiday apartments. Electricity? Make sure that your hotel has its own power generator. The alternative would be maddeningly frequent power cuts.
Instead, enjoy the hospitality offered by locals, and of course, the wonderful food.

Rahi: Set Individual Interests Aside for Govt. Lineup's Sake
Naharnet/August 15/18/Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rahi on Wednesday voiced calls on Lebanese politicians to “center attention on public interest” in order to ease the obstacles hampering the government formation. Rahi urged officials to set aside their “own individual interests and focus on the public and people’s interests.” He also invited them to “show allegiance to Lebanon, its sovereignty, dignity, positive neutrality and constructive relations with all countries.”“Only then, the government will quickly form and proceed with reforms in vital sectors,” stressed Rahi. Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri was designated to form a government on May 24, but his mission has since been delayed because of wrangling between political parties over shares and ministerial seats.

Tenenti on Rmeish incident: To refrain from any actions that would increase tension
Wed 15 Aug 2018/NNA - UNIFIL Spokesman Andrea Tenenti explained in an interview with the National News Agency on Wednesday UNIFIL's response to yesterday's incident in the Rmeish area, which was accompanied by the launching of smoke bombs from the Israeli army. "UNIFIL arrived immediately to the scene to address the incident and work to ensure stability in the region," said Tenenti. "The Israeli army confirmed the launch of smoke bombs, and it is important for the parties to refrain from taking any actions that could increase tension along the Blue Line," he emphasized. "UNIFIL has opened an investigation into the incident, and the situation is now calm along the Blue Line," Tenenti concluded.

Turkish Embassy in Beirut: Grateful for Solidarity of Lebanese
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 15/18/The Turkish Embassy in Beirut issued a statement on Wednesday expressing appreciation for support campaign launched by the Lebanese people, as Turkey faces new “economic attacks” from the United States. “Turkey is grateful to brotherly and friendly Lebanese people for launching support campaigns in the cities of Beirut, Tripoli and Sidon in particular, and in all Lebanese regions expressing solidarity with our country against economic attacks we have begun to face,” read the statement on Twitter. Ties between the United States and Turkey, two NATO allies, took a new turn lately over the detention by Turkish authorities of American pastor Andrew Brunson. In retaliation, US President Donald Trump announced that the United States was doubling steel and aluminium tariffs on Turkey. The tensions and the tariff hike by the United States have caused the Turkish lira to bleed value, fanning fears the country is on the verge of an economic crisis that could spillover into Europe. Erdogan has repeatedly described the crisis as an "economic war" that Turkey will win. On Wednesday, Turkey announced it was hiking tariffs on imports of certain US products in response to American sanctions on Ankara that caused the value of the lira to plunge. However the latest outburst of tensions did not so far cause harm to the lira, which on Tuesday clawed back some ground after losing just under a quarter of its value in trade on Friday and Monday. The lira was trading at 6.3 to the dollar, a gain in value on the day of 0.8 percent.

Lebanon Rejects UN Stance, Says Syrians Should Return
Associated Press/Naharnet/August 15/18/Lebanon has rejected the position of the head of the U.N. refugee agency, who said it was too early to talk about a mass return of Syrian refugees because the war-torn country is still too dangerous. The Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that conditions in Syria now are stable in many cities and provinces. Lebanon is home to more than 1 million Syrian refugees, who make up nearly a quarter of its population. Filippo Grandi, the head of the U.N. refugee agency, said Monday he would be visiting Syria in "a few days" to assess the situation for displaced people. He said the international community should support refugees who want to return, but that it was "premature" to talk about mass repatriation.

Uncontrollable wildfires: A sign of the times

Reem Khamis/ Annahar/August 15/18
The occurrence of wildfires has remarkably increased during the last decade.
BEIRUT: The past few weeks various areas around the world have witnessed spreading wildfires. As a case in point, until today, more than 18 wildfires have burnt across California with one of them breaking records by coming the largest in the state’s history.
Moreover, during the first week of August, wildfires have outburst in Portugal and Spain. Likewise, a couple of weeks ago, wildfires have devastated the hills, forests, and villages lying right outside of Athens-Greece.
On a local level, Lebanon had its share of such environmental disasters. Most recently, starting August 10, large wildfire broke out in the northern region of Akkar, at Qobeyat. As of August 14, it was still active and a large number of firefighting resources have been devoted to combating the blaze, including successive waves of water-carrying Army helicopter, specially allocated. Such incidents, however, have been happening for years and could occur in other areas in the country.
Lebanon is susceptible to wildfires, which are likely to cause serious damages and affect people, especially that forest management is weak, and that residential developments are spreading to mountainous and vegetated areas.
These alerting events have suggested the need for a short overview article to elaborate on the causes of wildfires, their direct and indirect impacts as well as ways to build resilience and reduce the consequences and the likelihood of wildfires.
Wildfires are often originated due to human carelessness and to the lack of their consideration to the environment. For example, such fires could be instigated as a result of combustible trash thrown or left in the wilderness. Fires could also start with fireworks, cigarette buds, and improperly extinguished campfires.
Nonetheless, the occurrence of wildfires has remarkably increased during the last decade. Research has shown that global warming aggravates the conditions and increases the risk of wildfires.
What is the link between climate change and increased risks of wildfires? Well, as the global temperature is rising, summer days are getting hotter, heat-waves are becoming longer and more frequent and precipitation patterns are becoming irregular.
“Warmer and drier conditions make wild lands particularly vulnerable to insect infestations, resulting in more dead and highly combustible trees,” according to the report “Wildfires and Climate Change: A Vicious Cycle,” by the Frontline Wildfire Defense System group.
Wildlands are home to a great number of species of flora and fauna, and the destruction of these lands, due to wildfires, causes disruptions to the ecological cycle as vegetation cover decreases and some animals would lose their lives leading to the extinction of rare species. Moreover, wildfires destroy forests and burn acres of greeneries soothing the climate and generating oxygen.
These events increase air pollution and the release of a large volume of toxic gases in the atmosphere, which leads to health problems and increases pollution-related diseases. In unfortunate cases, fire could take away the lives and the homes of human beings. Moreover, fires can lead to food insecurity due to the decrease in vegetation cover. These events cause financial burdens on farmers, on the inhabitants of the area and on the country as a whole, as millions of dollars are spent to limit and overcome the damages. The question that remains unanswered is: How to build resilience and reduce the impacts and the likelihood of wildfires? Since human carelessness is the major initiator of wildfires, raising awareness is crucial. To increase public awareness, various tools can be used, such as the integration of the topic in the schools’ curriculum, awareness campaigns and training for people to have a better understanding of the topic and to know how to act in cases of extreme environmental events.
Planning is also an important tool for limiting the damages and reducing the impacts of wildfires. For example, well-rounded zoning rules could discourage and limit residential developments at the proximity of fire-prone areas. The inclusion of fire-resistant materials and design-features in buildings is important.
Finally, the development of emergency programs is crucial to allow impacted areas to recover and regain a balanced state following the occurrence of wildfires. These emergency initiatives can include the development of immediate warning alerts, improving the connectivity and the accessibility of emergency-plagued localities, as the training of surrounding populaces to improve and develop disaster preparedness to be able to act fast following the occurrence of destructive and dangerous weather events such as wildfires.
**Rim Khamis graduated from the Lebanese American University with a bachelor of Architecture and accomplished her masters in Environmental and Energy Management at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. Her thesis was an emphasis on urban resilience and climate change adaptation in megacities using a comparative approach of: Cairo, London and New York. Rim is currently undergoing her PhD studies in Environmental and Energy Solutions at the University of Pau and Pays de L'Adour in France focusing on climate change adaptation in medium-sized European cities.

Interview with the Indian Ambassador to Lebanon Sanjiv Arora
Paula Naoufal/Annahar/August 15/18
He shared some of his thoughts on current issues, and spoke of his experience as an ambassador of India to Lebanon.
BEIRUT: Annahar interviewed Indian Ambassador to Lebanon Sanjiv Arora at the Indian embassy for an insight on his life, his post in Lebanon, and the Indian-Lebanese relationship.
He shared some of his thoughts on current issues, and spoke of his experience as an ambassador of India to Lebanon, with the former being the world’s largest democracy and the third biggest economy in terms of purchasing power parity.
What did you study at university? How did you come to choose the diplomacy field that led to you serving as an Ambassador?
I studied physics, math, and English as an undergraduate and then I switched to business management and did my MBA in Punjabi University. Initially, I joined the corporate sector, but I then had this urge to join the diplomatic service. I left my corporate job after six months and I prepared for the civil service examination. Ever since, it’s been 34 years of fulfilling my voyage.
You’ve served in other Middle Eastern postings; could you tell us about them?
Lebanon is in my fourth assignment in the Middle East. My first posting was in Egypt in 1985. I learned Arabic there, hence my Egyptian dialect. I found that Egypt has a very vibrant atmosphere. After that, I served in Saudi Arabia. In 1988, I was the acting consul general during the Gulf War I. Saudi Arabia is a country that’s very close to India, and we have a strong partnership. We also have a large Indian community in Saudi.
In between my postings, I had to post in my own country, which I found to have been extremely important. Serving in Delhi was crucial for my development, since it’s in the capital that policies are formulated. Then 21 years after Saudi Arabia, I served as an ambassador to Qatar. During my time there, we enlarged cooperation in several sectors and exchanged high-level visits.
You’ve worked in multilateral and bilateral diplomacy, how do the two compare?
I have extensively dealt with bilateral issues, for four years I was head of the UN political division in the foreign ministry in Delhi. I dealt with quite a range of issues with respect to India’s foreign policy in the UN.
Both multilateral and bilateral diplomacy are very interesting and need a lot of work. In both, I think it’s very important to have a grasp of the issues.
What are the major priorities of the Indian embassy in Lebanon? And what has been the biggest challenge?
Our main priority at the embassy is to reach out to the Indian community in a very sincere and active manner. Their wellbeing and welfare is our foremost priority. Other priorities are strengthening economic and commercial relations. Bilateral trade is nearly $300 million and we are always encouraging more. In Lebanon, cultural diplomacy is so important. Here, there’s so much love for Indian music, films, costumes, food and so on.
Could you please tell me about the developments of the Indian-Lebanese relationship?
The two countries have a long historical relationship and they cooperate in diverse areas. There’s keenness on both sides to further expand cooperation. Both are pluralistic countries and there has been peaceful coexistence. I’ve always admired that Lebanon has been a functioning democracy.
We have efficient and swift visa services that usually provide multiple entries to India, since we want more Lebanese people to visit. We have a small yet a hardworking Lebanese community in India. We also want more Indians companies to invest in Lebanon and vice versa.
To add, there is also a presence of 900 Indian soldiers as part of UNIFIL peacekeeping mission. They have a high standard of professionalism and are highly reputable.
The ambassador also shared his thoughts on current issues like the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, trade war, climate change, terrorism, and disarmament.
We believe a separate state of Palestine should come into existence. There should be clearly marked borders which are fair. At the UN, we have been supportive of various resolutions for the Palestinian cause, including the resolution for Palestinian statehood. We have financial and technical assistance and high-level exchange visits between us and Palestine.
Current trade wars and climate change:
India is a member and an active stakeholder in the World Trade Agreement. It’s also engaged with other countries to expand global trades and we believe these policies must evolve in a transparent and efficient manner.
On the issue of climate change, India has been an active negotiator. We are highly concerned about environmental degradation and the effects of climate change for the entire planet. We believe all member states should take responsibility. As a large developing country, we share the global responsibility to combat climate change.
War on terrorism:
Terrorism is a threat to the entire international community. An act of terrorism anywhere is a threat to peace and security everywhere. India condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. We call upon the international community to back a zero tolerance policy on terrorism. India has been a victim of terrorism for many years, and we have been taking progressive steps to counter these acts and strengthen our cooperation with like-minded countries.
We have a consistent policy regarding disarmament, we believe in universal disarmament, which is verifiable and nondiscriminatory. Several years back, India presented a plan for global disarmament at the UN. In 1998 India undertook peaceful nuclear tests. India believes their nuclear weapons are for self-defense, and we have very well defined and publicized doctrine of no first use and minimal deterrence.
Today, August 15, marks the 72nd independence day of India, where have been the major developments since then and where does India stand now?
Mahatma Gandhi’s message is eternal; he led millions of people toward a non-violent civil disobedience movement and claimed our independence from British rule. Our country’s motto is “the entire world is one family.” With such a large population of 1.3 billion people, in the last seven years, India has every reason to be satisfied and proud with its achievements. Although we have a huge population, we don’t look at it as a challenge but as a huge resource.
Energy is being channelized, the education sector is improving. The economy is doing well, we are the world 3rd largest economy in terms of PPP. We also have a robust GDP growth rate.
Our current government has taken huge initiatives, like giving momentum to our manufacturing sector, inviting foreign partners to invest in India and join hands and collaborate, focusing on startups for the younger generation, trying to achieve a digital India, and working on a “clean India campaign,” for greater hygiene and cleanliness, which was inspired by Gandhi.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 15-16/18
Trump to sanction Iranian ship for facilitating terror strikes in Red Sea
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Wednesday, 15 August 2018/The Trump administration will take action against an Iranian ship that has been stationed at a key choke point in the Red Sea for months and is believed to be providing significant military and logistic aid to the Houthi militias Yemen. Washington Free Beacon website quoted on Tuesday US officials and military experts familiar with the situation as saying that the ship which is identified as “Saviz” is an Iranian ship believed to be masked as a cargo vessel has been identified as the “mother ship” stationed in the Red Sea providing targeting information for Houthi anti-ship attacks, which have increased in recent months, including a late July attack by Iranian-backed rebels on a Saudi oil tanker. The ship was delisted from US sanctions by the Obama administration as part of its efforts to uphold the landmark nuclear deal with Iran, US officials confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon. Upcoming Trump administration action against the Saviz and other Iranian vessels is part of a broader package of sanctions expected to kick back in on November 5, officials confirmed. Sanctions will target Iran’s port operations, shipping and shipbuilding sectors, and other affiliates.
Saviz aids Houthi militias’ boats
The Iranian ship “Saviz” , which has been anchored for more than a year in the Red Sea, near the Straits of Bab al-Mandeb in international waters, according to satellite shows, where the ship, which has been carrying commercial containers officially, since mid-2017.
Following the comments by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Commander Nasser Shabani on the commanding of the Houthi militias to strike two Saudi oil tankers near Bab al-Mandab, observers highlighted Iran’s role in threatening the navigation of the Red Sea through this sophisticated radar-equipped vessel and boats equipped with guns to guide militia boats. According to Iranian news outlets, many of the weapons handed over by the Iranian regime to the Houthi militias were carried out by speedboats from the same vessel. The boats were equipped with 23 mm ZU guns. Saviz itself is equipped with a radar rarely seen on cargo ships, but used to steer the Houthi militias’ boats when attacking Saudi oil tankers. The commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Qasim Suleimani, said that “the Red Sea is no longer safe,” referring to the attack by the Houthi militias, backed by Tehran, an attack on two Saudi oil tankers, indicating Iran’s involvement directly, threatening the navigation in the Red Sea by instructing their Houthi militias to attack tankers.
US officials familiar with the Saviz’s actions in the Red Sea told the Free Beacon the Iranian vessel is barely attempting to obfuscate its military role in aiding Houthi rebels in Yemen. “The Iranians aren’t even trying to disguise the military use of the ship,” said one US official familiar, who was not authorized to speak on record about the situation. “You don’t need classified intelligence or satellite photos of the decks to know that merchant ships simply don’t act this way.”“If you’re moving goods, you don’t anchor in the same place for weeks at a time, let alone outside a war zone, let alone a war zone where militias are firing missiles at other ships,” the source said. “The Obama administration enabled the Saviz to sail globally. President Trump will put a stop to that.”The Iranian ship’s suspicious activities have been cited in recent months by US military experts and foreign governments, including the Saudi government, which has been targeted by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. “A ship like Saviz could carry [Iranian military] Qods Force command and control elements and host berthing and logistics, while controlling the activities of smaller, lower-profile craft,” according to J.E. Dyer, a retired Naval intelligence officier who recently published a lengthy analysis on the ship. “The maritime problem in a chokepoint is short-legged but very multifaceted. It’s time to get the sanctions game face back on, and pay Saviz or her sister ships a visit with a US cruiser or destroyer.”
Military use of a commercial vessel
For their part, US officials familiar with the movements of the ship “Saviz” in the Red Sea, told the Washington Free Beacon “It is certainly that the Iranian ship provides logistical support for the Houthis in Yemen.”An American official said “The Iranians are not even trying to hide the military use of the commercial ship.”US defense experts with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, or WINEP, also have cited the Saviz as providing potential support and logistics to Houthi rebels as they commit acts of terrorism in the region. WINEP’s experts have advocated that the Trump administration “direct more intelligence gathering against the Iranian ‘mothership’ Saviz, a cargo vessel moored off the Red Sea archipelago of Dahlak.” “The Iranian military is likely using the Saviz to provide targeting data for Houthi anti-shipping attacks,” according to WINEP. “Closer observation of the vessel and the threat of exposing its suspected intelligence role might be enough to make it leave the area. Alternatively, if authorities are able to prove its complicity in military activities, they may have a case for boarding and seizing it, which could yield further evidence that Iran is violating UN sanctions and supporting attacks on civilian vessels.”The Saudi government has been tracking the Saviz for more than a year and has documented its extended stay in the Red Sea, activity usual for a typical cargo ship. “Saviz appears to have remained there for extended periods in the months since,” Dyer noted in her analysis. “This is not the typical profile of a large, modern, ocean-going cargo ship, which would be expensively ill-employed lingering among islands in the southern Red Sea.”US officials confirm the Obama administration removed sanctions on the Saviz in January 2016, enabling its free travel across the region. Sanctions were lifted as part of US commitments agreed upon under the nuclear deal, which President Donald Trump recently abandoned, paving the way for new economic sanctions on Tehran. The Saviz is just one of numerous Iran-related vessels that received a pass from US sanctions in 2016. Sanctions on the Saviz and other Iranian vessels are set to be re-imposed by November 5, according to information published by the Treasury Department. US military officials with Central Command, or Centcom, which controls American operations in the region, declined Free Beacon requests for information on the Saviz and its operations.
*With Washington Free Beacon

Iran rights advocate spy sentence unlawful: Defense team
AFP, Tehran/Wednesday, 15 August 2018/Lawyers for Iran’s award-winning human rights advocate Nasrin Sotoudeh said Wednesday that her five-year sentence on spying charges was unlawful as she was never charged or given the chance to appear in court. Famed rights lawyer Sotoudeh, 55, was arrested in June and told she had already been found guilty “in absentia” on spying charges by Tehran’s Revolutionary Court. One of her lawyers, Payam Derafshan, told AFP the trial took place some time ago, but that the sentence was not implemented until she represented several women arrested earlier this year for protesting against the mandatory wearing of the Islamic headscarf in public. Another of her attorneys said her imprisonment was unlawful, since she was entitled to remain free on bail pending an appeal. “According to the law, the court must issue a bail order and free the defendant until a definitive verdict is issued,” lawyer Mahmoud Behzahdi told the official IRNA news agency. Her defense team said no espionage charge was ever included in her charge sheet, which instead listed other charges including “propaganda against the system”. “There is no evidence in her file for the charge of spying, no report by the intelligence ministry to explain how she is a spy,” Derafshan told AFP. After a complaint was made to the judge, he added another charge related to her advocacy work against the death penalty, Derafshan said. “Nowhere in the law is it a crime to call for the gradual repeal of the death penalty. Even officials and experts talk about eliminating the death penalty for drug offences,” Derafshan told IRNA on Tuesday. Earlier this year, Sotoudeh took on the cases of several women who had been arrested for standing in public areas without their headscarves, which have been mandatory in Iran since shortly after the Islamic revolution of 1979. She won the European Parliament’s prestigious Sakharov human rights award in 2012 for her work on high-profile cases, including those of convicts on death row for offences committed as minors. She spent three years in prison between 2010 and 2013 for “actions against national security” and spreading “propaganda against the system” and remains banned from representing political cases or leaving Iran until 2022. Sotoudeh has defended journalists and activists including Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi and several dissidents arrested during mass protests in 2009 against the disputed re-election of hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. She had recently spoken out against a new criminal code that allowed only a small number of lawyers to represent individuals charged with state security offences -- just 20 for the whole of the capital Tehran for instance.

Jordan court charges five with ‘terrorism’ after deadly raid

AFP, Amman/Wednesday, 15 August 2018/Five suspected extremists arrested during a deadly raid in a town northwest of Amman were charged with terrorism offenses in Jordan’s state security court on Wednesday. Three alleged extremists were killed and five others detained on Saturday when security forces raided a building in the town of Salt. The operation, which also left four members of Jordan’s security forces dead, was linked to a bomb blast Friday that killed a policeman and wounded six others at a music festival in a nearby town. The court’s prosecutor accused the five detainees of “carrying out acts of terrorism that led to the death of a person and the demolition of a building” and “conspiracy to carry out terrorist acts”.It also charged them with the “possession and manufacturing of explosives for use in illegal activities” and the “possession of weapons and ammunition for use in illegal activities”.Under the 2006 Prevention of Terrorism Act, the charges are punishable by hanging. Interior Minister Samir Mubaideen said Monday that the extremists supported the ISIS and “followed its takfiri ideology”. The militants were holed up in an apartment in a four-storey residential block in Salt. They blew up the apartment as security forces encircled them and exchanged heavy fire. Medical sources said 10 people were wounded in the raid, including members of the security forces and residents of the building used as a hideout. Jordan, a small desert kingdom, has been the target of several extremist attacks. A shooting rampage in 2016 claimed by ISIS killed 10 people including a Canadian tourist in Karak, known for its Crusader castle. A close ally of Washington, Jordan has played a key role in the US-led coalition fighting ISIS in neighboring Syria and Iraq, using its air force against the extremists and allowing coalition forces to use its bases.

ISIS’s last days in Iraq: Wife of a leader close to Baghdadi tells the story
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Wednesday, 15 August 2018/Stories about ISIS’s "last days in Iraq" have been circulating in Iraqi and Arab media as told by Faten al-Khalifawi, daughter of the internationally blacklisted terrorist Samir al-Khalifawi known as “Haji Bakr” and wife of the official spokesperson of ISIS. Faten is known as “daughter of al-Haji” because of the high rank that her father had within the terrorist group. He was a military commander in the previous Iraqi regime, then joined terrorist groups after 2003. He was considered one of the closest people to leaders of these groups, until he reached ISIS where he was head of the group’s Military Council and was considered the second-in-command after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Faten is also the wife of the blacklisted terrorist "Abu Hassan," who became the official spokesperson after the main spokesperson “Abu Mohammed al-Adnani” was killed.
Faten, 26, recently stood in front of judge of a court that deals with terrorism cases, after the security forces arrested her near the province of Kirkuk. She told her father’s story from the beginning, when he joined the terrorist groups after 2003. She said: “When we were living in Aleppo, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi asked my father to marry me to Abu Hassan, who was the personal assistant for Abu Mohammad al-Adnani and one of the closest people to him, and so we got married, and Baghdadi himself carried out the ceremony.”She added: “At the end of 2013, my husband and I had moved to al-Mayadeen area. At that time, the Free Syrian Army broke into my father’s house in Aleppo and after exchanging fire, they killed my father who was wearing an explosive belt. They also detained my mother and my two brothers Ahmed and Mohammed, but they were released after nine months in a deal between ISIS and the Turkish intelligence.”Faten confirmed previous stories on targeting Baghdadi saying: “In the operation targeting the car of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Abu Mohammad al-Adnani was killed. That is when my husband was appointed official spokesperson of ISIS by al-Baghdadi when he visited us in our house in Mayadeen. And after the airstrikes intensified in our area, we were forced to move to al-Bukamal city in Syria. “We only stayed for a couple of months in al-Bukamal before Baghdadi asked us to move to al-Shaitat area, and that was because our house got targeted several times. In Shaitat, we lived in the house of ‘Hajji Khalaf’ with Baghdadi's family, which was composed of his four wives Um Khalid, Um Ruqayyah, Um Abdullah, and Um Obaida al-Shishaniyah,” she added.She clarified, saying: “Baghdadi’s mother and daughters Wafaa, Ruqayyah and Fatima lived with us too. In addition  to the family of Baghdadi’s detained brother ‘Haji Shamsi’. When we were forced to move again because of the airstrikes, the group wasn’t in control of any areas anymore, that’s why we went to refugee camps in Anbar Province (in Iraq), and from there we moved to Kirkuk to try to enter the province of Sulaymaniyah with fake papers and IDs, but the security forces figured out who we were and broke into the hotel we were staying in.

Qatar's Emir Travels to Crisis-Hit Turkey in Show of Support
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 15/18/The emir of wealthy Qatar flew to Turkey Wednesday to meet close ally President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an apparent show of support as Ankara grapples with a currency crisis. State media in Doha said Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani was travelling to Turkey for a "working visit". The emir "will discuss with the Turkish president bilateral relations and means of strengthening the existing strategic cooperation between the two countries in various fields," said a Qatar News Agency statement. Turkey has been rocked in recent days by a sharp decline in the value of its lira after US President Donald Trump tweeted last Friday that Washington was doubling aluminium and steel tariffs for Ankara. Washington's move came during an ongoing dispute over Turkey's holding of an American pastor for two years. In response, Erdogan has called for a boycott of US electrical goods.The turmoil has raised fears of a looming economic crisis in Turkey and prompted alarm that foreign investors in the country, including Qatar, could be hit in the fallout. Turkey and Qatar have become close economic and political partners in recent times. Doha has $20 billion worth of investments in Turkey, official figures showed last month, and Ankara is now one of the top exporters to the emirate. In recent days, Qatari supporters of Turkey have begun a public campaign in Doha to change their riyals into lira in an attempt to shore up the plunging Turkish currency. It is believed many Qatari investors could be at risk from a Turkish economic crisis. Underscoring the ties between the countries, Sheikh Tamim was the first foreign leader to phone President Erdogan during the aborted coup in Turkey in 2016. And Ankara has been conspicuous in its support of Doha as Qatar battles with continued Saudi-led isolation from Arab neighbours. Turkey also maintains a small military base in Qatar.

Turkey Slaps Retaliatory Tariff Hikes on Key US Products
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 15/18/Turkey hiked Wednesday tariffs on imports of several key US products in retaliation for American sanctions against Ankara, as a bitter dispute between the two allies that has battered the Turkish lira showed no sign of ending.
The lira -- which lost just under a quarter of its value in trading on Friday and Monday -- however continued to claw back some ground on financial markets, rallying around five percent against the dollar. But a court rejected an appeal for the release of American pastor Andrew Brunson -- whose detention for almost two years sparked the crisis -- leaving no immediate solution to the Turkey-US row in sight. The lira's fall had raised fears Turkey was on the verge of a fully-fledged economic crisis, especially in its banking system, that could spill over into Europe and other markets. Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said that the tariff hikes were ordered "within the framework of reciprocity in retaliation for the conscious attacks on our economy by the US administration". President Donald Trump had previously announced that the United States was doubling steel and aluminium tariffs on Turkey.
The hikes were published in Turkey's Official Gazette in a decree signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has repeatedly described the crisis as an "economic war" that Turkey will win. The tariff increases amount to a doubling of the existing rate, the state-run Anadolu news agency said, in an apparent parallel response to Trump's move. The decree said the move brought tariffs to 50 percent on imports of US rice, 140 percent on hard alcoholic drinks like spirits, 60 percent on leaf tobacco and 60 percent on cosmetics.
Dangerous game
Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said Turkey had doubled tariffs on 22 products imported from the United States, saying the tariffs were together worth an additional $533 million.
Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin added: "Turkey is not in favour of an economic war with anyone but when attacked ... will take all necessary steps."Erdogan on Tuesday said Turkey would boycott US electronic goods like iPhones, even though he has himself been photographed repeatedly using the product himself. He also made his now famous speech on the night of the July 2016 failed coup calling citizens out into the street through FaceTime, an iPhone app. Moves by the central bank to ensure Turkish banks have liquidity and a planned conference call by Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, who is Erdogan's son-in-law, on Thursday have gone some way to giving reassurance to investors. The lira was trading on Wednesday at 6.1 to the dollar, a gain in value on the day of 4.5 percent. But many analysts say the only way for the authorities to show they are really serious about tackling Turkey's economic problems -- which include inflation approaching some 16 percent -- would be a sharp interest rate hike. Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, warned the Turkish tariff hikes risked provoking a new reaction from Trump and ultimately add to downward pressure on tbe lira. "President Erdogan appears to be playing a dangerous game if he thinks he can come out on top in this spat with the US," he commented.
Other markets
As a court in the western Turkish city of Izmir rejected a new appeal to free Brunson on Wednesday, Kalin said the US needs to be respectful to the judicial procedures in Turkey.
Erdogan has warned Turkey could seek alternative partners, pointing to Ankara's strong ties with Russia, Iran and China. "The US is our major trade partner but it's not the only one," Pekcan, the trade minister, was quoted as saying by the official Anadolu news agency. "We have other partnerships and alternative markets." Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani of gas-rich Qatar, one of Turkey's very closest allies, arrived in Ankara on Wednesday for lunchtime talks with Erdogan. Turkish officials have also been keen to emphasise that Ankara wants to retain strong ties with Europe, which has also expressed deep unease with Trump's trade policies. Erdogan was due to speak on the phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday and French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, the presidency said. A Turkish court Tuesday released two Greek soldiers detained since March on espionage charges for illegally crossing the border in a case that has stoked tensions with Brussels

Turkey Court Rejects New Appeal to Release Detained US Pastor
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 15/18/A Turkish court on Wednesday rejected a new appeal to free US pastor Andrew Brunson, whose detention has sparked a severe crisis in relations between Turkey and the United States, local media reported. The court in the western city of Izmir rejected the appeal and ruled that Brunson will remain under house arrest, the state television TRT reported.

Israel Reopens Its Only Goods Crossing with Gaza
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 15/18/Israel reopened its only goods crossing with the Gaza Strip on Wednesday after closing it to most deliveries on July 9 following months of border tensions, a response to relative calm in recent days. An AFP journalist at the Kerem Shalom crossing, said dozens of trucks carrying various types of goods, including fuel, began passing into the blockaded Palestinian enclave. Both Israeli and Palestinian officials confirmed the crossing had reopened.

Libyan MP Hurt as Shots Fired in Row outside Parliament
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 15/18/Two people including a lawmaker were wounded Tuesday when shots were fired during a row outside Libya's parliament, a witness said. "An argument escalated between members of the presidential guard... the Tobruk lawmaker Saleh Hashem was lightly injured as he intervened to separate them," the witness said. "A guard was also shot and wounded. They have both been admitted to hospital and are doing well," he added, speaking on condition of anonymity. The witness did not detail the cause of the row outside parliament, which is located in the eastern city of Tobruk. A 2015 U.N.-brokered deal that set up a Government of National Accord was meant to calm years of chaos that followed the ouster and killing of dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. But the Tripoli-based unity government struggled to win the support of the elected parliament in Tobruk and its legitimacy was questioned by its rivals from the very start. Sitting lawmakers were elected in 2014 and were due to vote at the end of July on a plans to organize a referendum on a Libyan constitution. Parliamentary sessions have repeatedly been adjourned due to lawmakers arguing over the legal text and no further sessions are scheduled until the end of August. Aguila Saleh Issa, the parliament speaker, was one of four Libyan leaders to commit in May to organizing elections on December 10 in an agreement in Paris that sought to unite rival factions.

Birmingham Man behind UK Parliament Car 'Attack'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 15/18/The man arrested for driving into a barrier protecting the Houses of Parliament in a suspected terror attack was a Briton of Sudanese origin from Birmingham, media reports said Wednesday. Three people were injured when the silver Ford Fiesta drove into cyclists before crashing to a halt outside the House of Lords early on Tuesday morning. A 29-year-old British man driving the car was arrested at the scene, and named by newspapers as Salih Khater, from the central English city of Birmingham. Top police counter-terrorism officer Neil Basu said the suspect was not known to intelligence agencies, but The Times reported he was known to police. The paper reported that Khater is a shop manager in Birmingham and had studied at Sudan University of Science and Technology, citing his Facebook page. Abubakr Ibrahim, a childhood friend, told the paper: "He is not a terrorist. I have known him since childhood. He is a good man." He said Khater was the son of sorghum farmers, and had moved to Britain about five years ago in order to earn money to help his family. The member of parliament for the Hall Green area of Birmingham, Roger Godsiff, tweeted that the suspect was believed to have been from his area. Police also said on Tuesday they were carrying out searches at two addresses in the city, as well as an address in nearby Nottingham.
Banning vehicles
Police believe the Ford Fiesta travelled down to London on Monday night, arriving just after midnight. It then drove around the Tottenham Court Road area -- near Oxford Street -- before heading to the area around parliament around 6:00am (0500 GMT). The alleged attack took place around 7:30am. The car crashed into a security barrier, one of many erected on key British sites in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attack in the US, and reinforced in recent years. Last year, barriers were put on London's bridges after a man rammed his car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before crashing into barriers outside parliament and stabbing a police officer to death. Five people were killed and more than 50 wounded. The attacker, Khalid Masood, who had also been living in Birmingham, was shot dead at the scene. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said on Wednesday that he backed the idea of banning vehicles from parts of the area of the attack. "I've been an advocate for a while now of part-pedestrianising Parliament Square," he told BBC radio. But he warned any changes must not lose "the wonderful thing about our democracy which is people having access to parliamentarians, people being able to lobby Parliament, visitors being able to come and visit". London's police commissioner Cressida Dick said this was "a matter that will be discussed no doubt between parliamentary authorities, us, the intelligence agencies and indeed the local authorities".

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published
on August 15-16/18
Clear Choices Facing Iran
Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat/August 15/18
The change of occupants in the White House, following the 2016 US Presidential elections, has affected the whole world; but for Iran, specifically, it has truly been significant.
Today mass demonstrations in the streets of major Iranian cities coincide with the countdown of escalating American sanctions. Last week, the sanctions announced by President Donald Trump against Iran took effect. They include banning governments and companies from using the US dollar in transactions with Iran, stopping all bank transfers in the US currency, forbidding any business in the Iranian rial, as well as forbidding banks from lending money to Iran, and US banks from dealing with their Iranian counterparts.
Furthermore, the US sanctions ban trading in various materials and goods with Iran, including iron, Iranian carpets and food items; and within three months, the sanctions will include petroleum and petrochemical products too.
So the scene in Washington has changed dramatically since the very long American – Iranian “honeymoon” during Barack Obama’s presidency.
It is obvious that the change that came with Trump’s election was to a large extent “ideological”. Actually, it is not what we have been accustomed to in a “superpower”, where one rarely finds radical ideological differences between its two “establishment parties”.
Barack Obama’s winning the White House was somehow “revolutionary” in many ways in America’s political life; and within eight years the first African-American president practically apologized to several “Third World” regimes for the policies of the “American Establishment” and what he might regard as its “imperialism”.
However, all this was upended with Trump’s election. Now, Washington does not apologize to anybody. There is no special treatment to Western “allies”. No preferential consideration or “good neighborly” relations with Canada and Mexico, the only countries with which the US shares land borders. Thus, if one would describe Obama’s election as a “revolution”, then Trump’s surely deserves to be thought of as a “counter revolution” that has bulldozed all the assumptions, equations and concessions of the previous eight years.
Turning the page of animosity with Iran’s “mullahs”, and diligently working to develop the relations with Tehran was the cornerstone of Barack Obama’s vision for Middle East. This vision was, basically, translated since 2011 by Washington’s encouragement of “regime change” targeting pro-US leaders (in the context of the so called “Arab Spring”); and on the other hand, signing a nuclear agreement that temporarily delays Iran becoming a nuclear power, but gives the “green light” to dominate the region without the need of a nuclear arsenal.
Writing about the Iranian political scene, and Washington’s change of position vis-a-vis Iran under the presidency of Trump, my Iranian colleague, Amir Taheri, recently raised the issue of “To resist or not to resist?”
He went on to say: “In Tehran’s political circles these days that is the question. The prospect of fresh sanctions to be imposed by the United States and its allies has helped intensify the debate which has marked Iranian politics since the mullahs seized power in 1979.”
Indeed, during the last few decades, we have become familiar with this? Political rhetoric, some of which sounds contradictory to those who do not know much about the complexity of Iran’s socio-political culture. It is a culture that accommodates on one side the extraordinary coexistence, if not marriage, between Shiite “political Islam”, and on the other Aryan nationalism. It is the latter that President Hassan Rouhani boasted in a message to Trump that it goes back around 7,000 years!
On one side, electoral democracy whose “seasons” Tehran uses in impressing the World and distract its masses, and on the other the “Vilayet-e-Faqih” which is above elections.
On one side the regime’s various “councils” and government ‘institutions’, and on the other a political-financial militia that has its tentacles in everywhere and in every sector called the “Iranian Revolutionary Guards” (IRGC).
On one side the “revolution” with its slogans and popular “purity”, and on the other the sway of the “bazaar” with its rich turbaned and non-turbaned tycoons.
On one side, those we are told are “reformists” and “pragmatists” who understand the world and talk to each of its capitals in the language it understands and likes, and on the other those who are known to be “conservative”, “hardliners” and “militarists” who boast about threatening Iran’s neighbors, destroy their cities, and take over the politics of the countries they dominate.
This is Iran that is protesting these days.
It is the Iran of young man and women, and of the future, that – like every country – desires to be part of the world. Desires to enjoy its wealth rather have it spent by “dogmatic” extremists on fatal, destructive, and costly adventures and expansionist foreign projects, either under the banners of “exporting the revolution” or using the pretext of defending “holy shrines”. It the Iran that possesses one of the world greatest, human, economic, cultural and artistic treasures.
Today, Iran whose population exceeds 82 million (18th in the world), live on a land with an area of around 1,650,000 km2 (17th in the world). It has 10 percent of the world’s oil reserves, 15 percent of the world’s natural gas reserves (2nd in the world). Furthermore, despite of its bad governance and rulers’ adventurism, it is the world’s 7th largest oil producer and second exporter among OPEC members.
Given the above, the Iranian society seems to have had enough; its youth is angry as it feels deep national and cultural alienation.
Burning the portraits of “The Supreme Guide”, demonstrating against him and his authority is not an ordinary development. One must not make light, either, of the bitterness deeply felt by millions, and is expected to get worse, as American sanctions bite, considering that they are intended to remind the Iranians that their country’s resources must be used to improve their lives rather than spent in military adventures oversees.
The suppression of “The Green Revolution” and imposing restrictions on all forms of protests or oppositions are well-known to Iranians. They are also aware – especially, the young men and women – that the IRGC organizations are both largely responsible for suppressing their freedom and ambitions, protecting financial and political corruption, and directing foreign military adventures.
It is true that sanctions may for a while increase the people’s suffering, but they are expected to encourage those with a vested interest in change, and prompt them to make a stand.
Iran’s great resources belong to its people, not to its “generals” and their projects. So if the suffering is clear, so are the choices.

Analysis/In Nearing Deal With Israel on Gaza, Hamas Wins Achievements Through Military Resistance
عاموس هاريل من الهآررتس: مع اقتراب الصفقة مع إسرائيل حماس تحقق انجازات من خلال المقاومة العسكرية

Amos Harel/Haaretz/August 15/18
Netanyahu, who has no clear goal on Gaza, prefers to be weak on terror and not find himself in an endless war in the Strip.
The two sides clashing in the Gaza Strip, Israel and Hamas, seemed to be closer on Tuesday evening than anytime during the past few months to “the small arrangement” – a full cease-fire that includes a halt to all acts of violence, alongside the first easing of the blockade on Gaza.
If the efforts to broker the deal by the United Nations and Egyptian intelligence work out, and optimism in Israeli defense circles could be heard for the first time on the matter Tuesday evening, then it is possible that quiet could return to the border between Israel and Gaza for at least a few months.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has examined the possibility of calling early elections over the past few days, because of the coalition crisis over the law on drafting the ultra-Orthodox, along with other considerations. A stable cease-fire in Gaza would allow Netanyahu to conduct the election campaign from a position of relative stability, without having to continually fight back against the accusations that he has abandoned the residents of the south to rockets and incendiary kites.
The negative side of the understandings with Hamas for Netanyahu is that he is in practice negotiating with Hamas. His denials haven’t convinced anyone. Netanyahu knows exactly to whom the mediators are delivering his answers. It has happened in the past too, under Ehud Olmert’s government after Operation Cast Lead, and on Netanyahu’s watch too, after both Pillar of Defense and Protective Edge. But it seems that this time it is even clearer and more unforgiving.
It will also be a victory from Hamas’ point of view. The organization began escalating the tensions along the border with mass protests on March 30, from a position of deep distress. The understandings are expected to ease the Israeli pressure on the Gaza Strip and give Hamas breathing room. At the same time, the understandings promise Hamas another achievement: being identified as an important and legitimate partner for regional agreements. And Hamas achieved all this through military resistance, in complete opposition to the line taken by its rival Palestinian camp, Fatah and the Palestinian Authority.
The step that is now coming together was woven by the United Nations special envoy for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, with the active help of Egyptian intelligence. The latest round of violence, which came last week, sped up the renewal of contacts and may have even advanced the willingness of the two sides to reach an agreement.
It seems that Netanyahu has chosen the least bad option. It is very possible he will spare the lives of dozens of Israeli soldiers and civilians, who could very well have died in a wide-scale military conflict in Gaza in the next few months. Because Netanyahu never set a clear and attainable goal for himself for an attack on Gaza, he is willing to endure criticism from both the left and right on his demonstration of weakness in the face of terrorism, and not find himself in the middle of a war whose end, the how and why of it, would be a riddle to him.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett is once again passing Netanyahu on the right. On Tuesday evening, he came out openly against the agreement with Hamas and warned about awarding a prize for terror. Bennett presented a different solution to the security cabinet: An attack on Hamas entailing a certain amount of risk, but in his opinion one that would not require a ground offensive inside the Gaza Strip. For now, his is a minority position and the proposal is going back into the drawer. But if the agreement fails, his plan will once again be put on the table – and Bennett will be able to say, “I told you so,” as happened four years ago with the attack tunnels from Gaza. This is an issue that will certainly come up during the election campaign.
On Wednesday morning, at the end of what promises to be three full days of quiet, Israel will expand the area allowed for fishing along the Gaza coast and remove the restrictions it imposed recently on the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing. The next test will come Friday, when Hamas is supposed to keep its promise to prevent violent protests and stop the incendiary kites and balloons. Later, other means of easing restrictions on Gaza will be made that have not yet been announced.
Potentially, even more is at hand: An agreement on the matter of the Israeli missing and captives in Gaza, and even a reconciliation agreement between the rival Palestinian camps. The prisoner exchange will be difficult to achieve because of Hamas’ demand to release dozens of those who were released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap but rearrested by Israel in the summer of 2014. It seems the Shin Bet security service remains firmly opposed to re-releasing them. And as for the reconciliation, the PA still opposes it strongly and even contributed to the tensions because of the sanctions it opposed in Gaza against Hamas. Meanwhile, senior PA and Hamas officials continued to exchange accusations over the past few days.

Osama bin Laden’s mother condemns the Muslim Brotherhood

Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Al Arabiya/August 15/18
For the first time in many years, the mother of Osama bin Laden has broken her silence and spoken about her relationship with her son. As a mother, she doesn’t believe anything bad about her son even if he was the leader of Al-Qaeda, the man who spread terrorism and destruction.
The most important feature of Mrs. Aliya Ghanem’s talk relates to how the Muslim Brotherhood recruited her son when he was studying at the King Abdul-Aziz University in Jeddah, specifically by Palestinian Brotherhood member Abdullah Azzam, the spiritual father of the Arab Afghans, and the leader and mentor of bin Laden.
She believes that her son was “brainwashed in his twenties and became a different person”. What Osama’s mother does not know is that Abdullah Azzam wasn’t the only bad influence, but this transformation was also brought about by Ikhwan al-Hijaz (the Brotherhood of the Hijaz), the most active branch of the two other organizations affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood in Saudi Arabia which are ‘the Brotherhood of Riyadh’, or the so-called ‘General Command’ as well and the ‘Az-Zubayr Brotherhood’.
Muslim Brotherhood’s brainwashing
The interview by bin Laden's mother have been carried out by the British newspaper The Guardian and was translated by many Arab media outlets. It is an important confession because his mother watched him as a young boy and later as a young man and witnessed the extent of the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence over him and of brainwashing him and the degree of emotional isolation he underwent because of the radical teachings about "Hakimiyyah" and "Jahiliyyah, the alleged Western conspiracy against Islam and other dubious ideas which first mentally brainwashed him and then made him establish Al-Qaeda, the most dangerous terrorist organization in the last three decades.
Bin Laden’s mother witnessed the extent to which the Muslim Brotherhood influenced her son and the degree of emotional isolation he underwent because of the radical teachings.
Many have written about bin Laden's relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood; his relationship with Abdullah Azzam and the Brotherhood of the Hijaz is well-known. He was later ousted from the organization after he dared go to Afghanistan and stay there although the orders were to deliver aid and return. Ayman al-Zawahiri mentioned this in a series of video-broadcasts following the assassination of bin Laden.
After Al-Qaeda became stronger and attracted more followers. Mustafa Mashhur, the Muslim Brotherhood’s general guide, who is also a prominent student of Sayyid Qutb, met bin Laden and told him: “You left your brothers and you shall return to your brothers”. However, bin Laden refused the offer because he believed that he was more influential than the Brotherhood.
Source of distorted beliefs
It is important for researchers and experts to acknowledge the dissimilarities between political Islam groups and violent religious organizations, but the most important point is to realize that they all derive from the Muslim Brotherhood's discourse, which is the founding basis for all misinterpretation of Islam for the last nine decades.
The spread of the Muslim Brotherhood’s rhetoric has been the greatest threat to Islam as a religious that guides and exploited the latter as a tool to attain power, while only focusing on their selective interpretation of ‘Sharia’ and abolishing the other foundations of the religion and its branches.
Al-Qaeda's alliance with Iran has been an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology which glorifies Khomeini’s revolution. Al-Qaeda also allied itself with Qatar and Turkey's fundamentalist project in the region. Al-Qaeda was keen over hiding this alliance from ideological and extremist followers but after it was exposed, it began to issue lengthy explanations via the Sururist Movement in Saudi Arabia and others.
For example, most recently there has been the book, ‘Muslims and Western Civilization’, supposedly written by Safar Al-Hawali. I believe that this is the work of a different Sahawist group, for it appears that Safar al-Hawali and Nasser al Omar targeted the Shiites and Sufism inside Saudi Arabia to provoke sedition and chaos within the country, while they remain convinced of bin Laden’s alliance with Iran.
Mrs. Aliya Ghanem finally appeared in the pictures wearing high-end clothes that reflect a fine taste while giving a testimony to history and the world about the Muslim Brotherhood and the ideology that brainwashed her son at an early age and deceived him, which is the method of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Donald Trump’s message to grey allies
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/August 15/18
“You can't have your cake and eat it too” is a famous western proverb.
This saying today applies on Turkey under the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It also somehow applies to Qatar’s current authority.
The two countries have alliance ties with the US. A feature of these ties is the presence of military bases. In Qatar, there are purely American bases in Al-Udeid and Al-Sailiya. And in Turkey, there is a base for the NATO that’s led by Washington, i.e. the famous Incirlik Air Base. This relationship is not only limited to this sensitive military aspect but there is also the inclusion of these two countries under the banner of the global camp led by Washington against the ambitions, purposes and acts of major countries, primarily Russia and China.
Regarding Russia, the American confrontation with it includes the security, military, political and media aspects. As for China, the confrontation’s first headline is economical, without denying the confrontation’s other facets.
The dispute between Erdogan and Trump is not limited to the issue of the American pastor jailed in Turkey. This is the headline of the crisis but the content is Erdogan’s act of taking Turkey towards the camp that opposes Washington.
Of course there are “margins” to the activity of Washington’s allies with Russia and China even if this upsets the Americans. The picture however is different when work goes beyond acting within the framework of these margins to working like enemies and not like allies. In this case, only in this case, this or that state must select the type of relation with Washington.
Erdogan’s Turkey is going through a critical phase due to the decline of the local currency after American President Donald Trump intensified sanctions. The worse is yet to come. Populist President Erdogan continues to threaten the US with woes and with the worst!
The dispute between Erdogan and Trump is not limited to the issue of the American pastor jailed in Turkey. This is the headline of the crisis but the content is Erdogan’s act of taking Turkey towards the camp that opposes Washington. The defiance of Erdogan and his men to the sanctions on Iran was a flagrant form of empty defiance.
So now, who will help Erdogan in his financial and economic storm?
Qatar, that cannot go far in provoking the current American administration. It’s said that Erdogan is angry from Doha because it financially let him down as he requested the authorities to “return the favor” after he insolently sided with Qatar in an “Ottoman-like” manner against the Gulf countries, or the most important Gulf states.
Even the ruling Shiite parties in Iraq could not go far in being bias to the faltering Iran under the whip of American sanctions. In the news, the media spokesperson of Iraqi Prime minister Haider al-Abadi confirmed the reports that the latter cancelled his visit to Tehran and which was scheduled for Tuesday and attributed the move to Abadi’s “busy schedule.” Abadi however headed to Turkey on the same day.
The Associated Press quoted Iraqi officials as saying that “Tehran cancelled Abadi’s visit” after he angered Iranian officials following his announcement that his country is committed to American sanctions against Iran last week.
Anyway, the choices have become clear in the era of solid American President Donald Trump. You will no longer claim alliance with the US while you’re in the opposing camp. Perhaps this “playing” worked during the era of “flexible” President Barack Obama.

Will US sanctions force Iran to act like a ‘normal nation?’
Ellen R. Wald/Arab News/August 15, 2018
Given the poor state of Iran’s economy, US sanctions on Iran are probably not necessary. However, they are intended to expedite change in Iran and extinguish any hope the regime had of turning around its economy.
Iran’s religious leaders maintain a devotion to revolutionary ideology, rhetoric and action as a means to justify the regime's continued existence and repression of its people. These revolutionary ideals have prevented Iran from welcoming foreign investors and businesses in the years between sanctions, particularly in the oil and gas sector. As a result, Iran has not been able to improve its struggling energy industry or build other industries in the country. Even before President Donald Trump’s decision in May to reinstate sanctions, the country’s economy was suffering. The new sanctions will ensure that Iran cannot turn around its economy without first improving its behavior in world affairs.
With the reinstated sanctions, Iran’s opportunity to improve its economy has dwindled and a crisis point is being hastened. So far, the US is not granting exemptions to foreign businesses, meaning it is seeking to effectively isolate Iran economically. Few countries and firms are willing to risk antagonizing the US and a seemingly staunch Trump administration, even for cheap Iranian oil. They fear losing the opportunity to do business with the US, which has a much larger market and is the most powerful economic force in the world.
An isolated Iran cannot satisfy its people economically. It is now facing regular and persistent protests against religious laws, poor drinking water, unpopular foreign policy decisions, out-of-control inflation and a failing economy.
However, as the sanctions take effect this month and in November, the key question is: What is America’s goal? In May, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he asked Iran to “behave like a normal nation.” Some have said the US’ objective should be regime change in Iran, although Washington would probably be satisfied with less. The goal could be a true end to Iran’s nuclear ambitions and missile capabilities, with stringent assurances that were not present in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement.
However, the reference to a “normal nation” could indicate that the US is seeking an end to Iran’s extraterritorial involvement in conflicts and terrorist activity. This would mean that the White House is looking for Iran to halt all support of Hezbollah and Hamas, end Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps activity in Iraq and Syria, and stop its backing of the Houthis in Yemen. Most likely, the Trump administration is being intentionally vague about its goals in order to give the US room to negotiate.
Iran is now facing regular and persistent protests against religious laws, poor drinking water, unpopular foreign policy decisions, out-of-control inflation and a failing economy​
This also explains why Trump offered to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani even before any sanctions came into effect. The goal is to use the economic pain Iran feels to end the threat that the regime poses to its neighbors and to the US. Given the apparent domestic disenchantment with the Iranian regime and the repeated protests and unrest, it is possible that sanctions might lead to regime change, but that is one of the least likely outcomes. The most realistic goal of the sanctions is behavioral change from Iran, coupled with concrete assurances for the global community.
Last week, right after the first round of sanctions came into effect, Rouhani said Iran would talk to the US “right now.” Some took this as a sign of success, because Iran had rejected talks just a few days earlier. However, soon after, Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said “there will be no meeting.” From America’s strategic perspective, it is probably better not to meet with Iran right away. It is too early for a rapprochement and Iran has not yet suffered under the sanctions. Strategically, Trump wants Iran to come to the US from a position of need. His statement should be understood as notifying the Iranians that he is ready to talk when Iran is serious about change.
On the topic of a meeting between Trump and Iranian leaders, some in Washington have said that the president should actually meet with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei because it is he who holds the real power in Iran’s bifurcated political system. It is true that, when it comes to foreign affairs, Khamenei is the ultimate arbiter, but in the Iranian system he would not participate in such talks.
Iran’s political system is carefully defined in its constitution and, within that system, Rouhani and Zarif represent Iran in international affairs. Khamenei sets the course of Iranian foreign policy and military moves, but is specifically insulated from day-to-day negotiations and policy implementation. Khamenei sits at the top of a religious hierarchy and must maintain a certain distance from policy and negotiations to preserve the supreme leader’s religiously mandated power. Even though Rouhani could never engage in talks with the US without his approval, it is key to Iran’s political system that Khamenei not be seen directly engaging with the West. Outwardly legitimizing agreements with Washington would implicitly delegitimize Khamenei’s office. In fact, reports now indicate that Khamenei has banned Iranian officials from engaging in direct talks with the US.
The new US sanctions will likely expedite an Iranian economic crisis. There is some potential that they could force behavioral changes and compel Iran to “behave like a normal nation.” However, Iran is used to isolation and its political leaders will try to use the sanctions to rally support for themselves and the Iranian revolutionary movement. If any change is going to happen, we will probably not know until it is imminent.
**Ellen R. Wald, Ph.D. is a historian and author of “Saudi, Inc.” She is the president of Transversal Consulting and also teaches Middle East history and policy at Jacksonville University. Twitter: @EnergzdEconomy

US sanctions push Russia closer to emerging eastern bloc

Dr. Theodore Karasik/Arab News/August 15, 2018
With more than 700 Russians and their companies now under US sanctions, America is punishing Russia for its perfidious behavior toward the West. Moscow has been subjected to successive waves of sanctions that include travel bans, asset freezes and finance and trade restrictions. These sanctions are beginning to bite at the Russian economy and further punishment may affect the ruble's value, pushing Russia further into a recession and breaking the economy in a bid to change Vladimir Putin's behavior.
Sanctioning Russia is not new — it is a regular feature of the US toolkit. The Obama administration imposed sanctions for Russia’s actions in Ukraine and for meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The Trump administration in April sanctioned oligarchs and government officials over the election meddling and other “malign” activities, and now additional sanctions that will begin in late August have been added over the nerve agent attack in the UK. Political leaders, politicians and the state security services have not been exempted from the swinging US sanctions axe.
The latest sanctions cover exports to Russia of items with a potential national security purpose, such as gas turbine engines, electronics and testing and calibration equipment. In turn, Russia is threatening to retaliate by banning sales of Russian engines to NASA, but the head of Roscosmos is planning to meet his US counterpart in the fall. Despite the rancor, space cooperation is likely to continue.
Legally, sweeping new sanctions may follow 90 days later, in November, including a reduction in diplomatic relations, bans on the import of Russian oil and exports of “all other goods and technology” aside from agricultural products, and limits on loans from US banks. The US is required to suspend aviation agreements and stop Russia from issuing new sovereign debt, which may be quite painful to the Russian economy.
There is an ongoing struggle between Donald Trump and his supporters, who want to engage with Russia, and the so-called “deep state” of national security bureaucrats, who are seeking revenge after the November 2016 presidential election
What is happening is that new sanctions, which have followed a path of squeezing Russia tighter, are increasingly a function of American domestic politics. There is an ongoing struggle between Donald Trump and his supporters, who want to engage with Russia, and the so-called “deep state” of national security bureaucrats, who are seeking revenge after the November 2016 presidential election. As the time passes since that election, and with Trump’s behavior toward Putin, especially in Helsinki, the narrative that the president is under Russia’s “influence” is now permanent.
That sentiment is a long-term driver in a chunk of American body politic regardless of whether Trump is president or not. Russia will bear the brunt of angry America for some time to come. One knows the type of sentiment that still resides in Washington about the 444-day American hostage crisis in Iran after four decades. The current situation may be a useful marker to consider how long the palpable anger is likely to last.
Nevertheless, the Trump administration is working with Moscow on a number of issues, regardless of what anti-Trump forces think or demand. Trump can’t weaken sanctions, but nothing can stop the American president from engaging with Moscow on matters of international security. The Helsinki summit, and the channels that set up that meeting, are now in action. A process of lines of communication and de-confliction are now more active than ever.
Syria is the main topic, but there are also other hot-button issues, especially Turkey’s future and the American campaign against Iran. Arms control is also on the table, including extending the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. All these discussions are intertwined and are increasingly coming under strain because of the White House’s actions against Turkey and the resulting economic damage that is reverberating across markets, including Russia. Moscow sees this American move as a threat to the ruble, which is already undergoing a drop in value back to 2016 levels.
Always proactive, Moscow is taking action. In order to hedge its bets, what is happening now — as a result of the current state of US-Russia relations — is that Moscow is seeing an opportunity to continue the process of moving away from the West and build a protective shield against American sanctions. Russia’s moves include tools that the Kremlin has perfected the use of over the past few years, such as currency swaps and further pushing the ability to transact outside the SWIFT system. It is important to remember that Russia holds one of the largest holdings of gold, which gives the country some additional leverage.
China is also playing a role as the spoiler in the US-Russia relationship by working closely with Moscow on the new geopolitics of the Middle East, Africa and even Latin America, where Russia is making advances at the expense of American infighting. Debt and seizures are the new tools of Eastern trade and they work in most cases. Trump’s sanctions policy, no matter the target country, may find the rate of new subsidiaries that avoid sanctions outpaces the ability for America to chase them down.
Some may argue that this phenomenon is already a fact, but the underestimation of the ability for an array of countries, from China to the UAE to South Africa, that are already creating a new strategic arc of innovation, transport and trade is meant to not only band together but also belong to an emerging supra-economic group that threatens America’s ability to use economic tools effectively.
In 2000, when Putin replaced Boris Yeltsin as president, the Russian vision about US-Russian relations was as clear as it is now. We know Putin thought the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest calamity of the 20th century. Now, the Russian president sees the emergence of a new order while the West is confused and failing as the next step. With that prognosis in mind, US-Russia relations are in for a rough ride. The post-Trump, post-Putin future will still be contending with the issues of today and tomorrow.
Importantly, Putin sees himself as not only a designer but also an influencer of the emerging shift in global economics. As more sanctions hit Russia, Iran and other countries, the resulting bloc will begin to unite more and more. And, as Trump is forced to hit out harder and harder against Russia because of US domestic politics and the importance of the November mid-term elections to America’s immediate future, the rhetoric and actions and reactions may be quite testy.
*Dr. Theodore Karasik is a senior adviser to Gulf State Analytics in Washington, D.C. He is a former RAND Corporation Senior Political Scientist who lived in the UAE for 10 years, focusing on security issues. Twitter: @tkarasik

Turkish president’s latest gamble not the right way to tackle economic challenges, say experts
Menekse Tokyay/Arab News/August 15/18
ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has raised the stakes in a diplomatic stand-off between his country and the US with a call to boycott US electronic goods such as iPhone. The call is in retaliation for recent sanctions imposed by Washington over the detention of an American pastor for almost two years. “Whatever we buy from abroad we are going to produce here in better quality and export it. We are going to boycott US electronics,” said Erdogan on Tuesday. “If they have iPhones, there is Samsung on the other side, and we have our own Venus, Vestel here,” he said in a speech to members of his AK Party. The call resulted in a 5 percent increase in the share value of Turkish electronic company Vestel.
However, Erdogan is known for his use of Apple products, with his famous appeal on the night of the July 2016 failed coup — calling on citizens to take to the streets — carried out through FaceTime, an iPhone app.
Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat who chairs the Istanbul-based Center for Economics and Foreign Policy, said Erdogan’s latest gamble was not the right way to tackle the country’s economic challenges.
“At this point what is needed is to reassure markets and investors that the government is aware of the difficulties and the structural problems of the Turkish economy,” Ulgen told Arab News. “The president’s combative remarks are more focused on maintaining the support of Turkish public opinion at a time of economic duress. But these remarks also nurture a perception abroad that Ankara is failing to evaluate the needs and essential steps to avoid a more severe economic downturn,” he said.
Turkey’s current account deficit, which has widened to 6.3 percent of GDP, is a chronic problem as the country imports more goods and services than it exports, forcing it to borrow foreign money to make up the difference.
Paul Levin, director of Stockholm University Institute for Turkish Studies, said that any positive effects of patriotic action by tradesmen, retailers and ordinary Turks to defend the lira will be temporary.
“A sustainable response would entail monetary policy actions that convince the markets that Turkish policymakers can be trusted again. The nationalist rhetoric and talk of boycotts hurt more than it helps,” Levin told Arab News. “A cease-fire in the diplomatic spat with the US would be much better.”
Turkey boycotted Italian products in 1998 after the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan, fled from Syria to Italy, and the Turkish government’s extradition request was rejected by the Italian government. The sanctions led to Turkish Airlines and Alitalia halting Istanbul-Rome flights for two months.
Nursin Atesoglu Guney, dean of the faculty of economics, administrative and social sciences at Bahcesehir Cyprus University, believes that the call for an electronics boycott has a symbolic meaning.
“Turkish people want to show their reaction against the measures that have recently been imposed against Turkey. Beyond its financial aspect, there is currently a psychological war between the two countries through high-level rhetoric,” she told Arab News. It is not known if Turkish tech stores will be forbidden from selling iPhone models, a hugely popular device in the country.
Ebru Baki, an independent economist, underlines the need for structural reforms to address the current account deficit in the country rather than relying on boycotts.
“We are dependent on imports. Even when exporting we need to import some intermediary products. Our exports are not high value added and thus lead to high current account deficit. We need to invest in technology and produce high value-added products,” she said.
“Such a boycott will not hurt Apple. But we have to rebuild ourselves. We need to identify niche sectors, which we can be known for, as South Korea has done in the past.
“We also need an income distribution reform and to invest in agriculture to decrease the current account deficit. We are known for our agricultural diversity, yet are importing food. Now food prices will increase, leading to higher inflation,” she said.
According to Baki, it is not feasible to cut off Turkey’s young population from US technology.
“For this to happen, one should produce electronic goods of the same quality as Apple. This call has symbolic meaning, but it cannot be applied practically among young people, who would prefer high-quality technology,” she said.

Qatar: France's Generous Financer of Mosques
Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/August 15/18
The Great Mosque of Poitiers, for instance, sits in the vicinity of the site of the Battle of Tours, where Charles Martel, ruler of the Franks, stopped the advancing Muslim army of Abdul al-Rahman in the year 732.
"We have funds from abroad... it comes from the faithful of Saudi Arabia and Qatar," says Ahmed Jamaleddine, treasurer of the Amal association, which is behind the construction of "the Great Mosque of Saint-Denis." Saint-Denis also happens to be home to a famous Cathedral, the Basilica of Saint-Denis -- which contains the royal necropolis where many of France's kings are buried.
The Emir of Qatar appears to have a far greater grasp of French history than many French do.
Qatari activism in France should greatly worry those who care about the stability of European democracies. For years, Qatar has been the focus of many claims about its Islamic fundamentalism and its alleged support for the Muslim Brotherhood, Iran, ISIS, elements of al-Qaeda, Hamas, the Taliban and other Islamic extremists.
Qatar's emir, Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, recently provided solid proof that France is a privileged field of projection for his country, which, for more than a year, has had a severe boycott imposed on it by its Gulf neighbors. A July meeting in Paris between the Emir of Qatar and French President Emmanuel Macron was the third held in just a few months. Contracts worth more than 12 billion euros have already been signed, making Qatar the third largest French customer in the Gulf after Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Qatar, however, casts its shadow not only over the French economy.
Money from Qatar finances many of the "mega-mosques" in France. These are large structures with minarets -- not the improvised mosques that have sprung up in garages, storefronts and cultural centers. The Great Mosque of Poitiers, for instance, sits in the vicinity of the site of the Battle of Tours (also known as the Battle of Poitiers), where Charles Martel, ruler of the Franks, stopped the advancing Muslim army of Abdul al-Rahman in the year 732.
The imam of Poitiers today, Boubaker El-Hadj Amor, announced that the mosque, with a prayer hall for 700 faithful and a minaret of 22 meters, was made possible thanks to money from the organization "Qatar Charity." In a video, the imam of Poitiers admits to having benefited from Qatari funds to continue the mosque's construction, interrupted for several years due to lack of funding from local believers. "What we have built is thanks to Allah and with the help of the 'Qatar Charity' organization", the imam said.
According to the newspaper Libération:
"[W]e are currently witnessing a relative muzzling of the historical partners of Islam in France, Morocco and Algeria. Although they remain opulent donors, maintain close links with the first generations of immigrants and have locked up key positions within the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), these two countries see their influence diminishing among the youngest [generation]."
"... Qatar operates an insidious, but consensual, entryism, within the Union of Islamic Organizations of France (UOIF), France's representative of the [Muslim] Brotherhood."
"Through the UOIF, Qatar's idea was to take control of Islam in France", says Georges Malbrounot, a reporter at Le Figaro and co-author of the book "Nos très chers émirs" ("Our dear Emirs") about the relations between France and Qatar.
One mosque largely financed by Qatari money is the Assalam Mosque in Nantes.
With its 17-meter-high minaret, large dome rising 14 meters and exterior illumination at night, the Assalam mosque "illuminates the city of Nantes." The mosque apparently answers a real need for the Muslims of the city. The faithful used to pray in the Arrahma Mosque and the El Forqane Mosque (formerly the Saint-Christophe Christian chapel, before it was transformed into an Islamic prayer hall), but Muslim community leaders say they were too small for the community's needs.
Qatari money is also flowing into Mulhouse, an Alsatian city, where Qatar Charity helped to build the An Nour Center, which includes a large mosque -- "one of the most impressive in Europe". The Qatari media described the project:
"The centre is strategically located in the border region of France, Germany and Switzerland, where Muslims constitute more than 20 percent of the total population of the city of 256,000 people. More than 150,000 people from the three countries will benefit from the project".
In Marseille, Qatari money is also financing the future Great Mosque of Marseille that will accommodate between 10,000 and 14,000 worshipers -- in a city that already hosts "about 70 mosques and official prayer rooms," according to the Regional Council of the Muslim Faith. The government of Qatar, in addition, has given millions of euros to the Grand Mosque in Paris.
Among the Persian Gulf states, Qatar now seems to be preeminent in creating Islamic history in France. Bernard Godard, who for years served as a consultant on Islam for the Ministry of the Interior, said: "It cannot be said that Islam in France is financed mainly by Saudi Arabia. It contributes a little but much less than countries such as Qatar or Kuwait". The French scholar, Bérengère Bonte, last year wrote a book entitled, The French Republic of Qatar ("La République française du Qatar").
Qatar has also reportedly helped finance the Saint-Denis campus of the European Institute of Human Sciences (IESH). This private "Muslim University" offers Arabic language and theology courses to post-graduate Muslim students. In fifteen years, its enrollment has grown from 180 students to almost 1,500.
Qatar is, as well, behind France's first state-funded Muslim faith school, the Lycée-Collège Averroès. The school was at the center of a dust-up a few years ago when one of its teachers resigned after writing that the school was "a hotbed of anti-Semitism and was 'promoting Islamism' to pupils". The school is financed by government funding, tuition fees, and donations from the Muslim community. But when it became necessary to buy a new building and renovate it, for 2.5 million euros, the Saudi Arabia Development Bank agreed to pay 250,000 euros, and the NGO Qatar Charity 800,000. According to the newspaper Libération:
"But when it became necessary to buy a new building and renovate it, for 2.5 million euros, the Saudi Arabia Development Bank agreed to pay 250,000 euros, and the NGO Qatar Charity 800,000."
Then there is what is known as "the Great Mosque of Saint-Denis," located in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, which has a high concentration of Muslim immigrants. Ahmed Jamaleddine, treasurer of the Amal association, which is behind the construction of the mosque, says: "We have funds from abroad... Everything is transparent: it comes from the faithful of Saudi Arabia and Qatar."
Saint-Denis also happens to be home to a famous Cathedral, the Basilica of Saint-Denis -- which contains the royal necropolis where many of France's kings are buried, including Charles Martel, noted earlier, who stopped the advance of the Muslim army in 732.
The Emir of Qatar appears to have a far greater grasp of French history than many French do. Qatar is a country of which democracies would do well to be wary.
*Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Does Turkey Belong in the Future of NATO?
هل تنتمي تركيا في المستقبل إلى حلف الناتو؟

Nonie Darwish/Gatestone Institute/August 15/18
Loving one's native culture and feeling comfortable in it is normal. Western leaders have respected the rights of new immigrants to love the cultures from which they have come. But unfortunately, those same leaders are tearing apart their own cultures by turning love of one's own country into an unforgivable sin, when it is expressed by native citizens of Western countries. This trend needs to end.
Unless the leadership of Europe decides to stop the transformation of the continent with the same determination expressed by some extremist leaders that appear to want to transform it, its future is all too clear.
Turkey's President Erdogan has been steadily abrogating NATO commitments, such as, "uphold[ing] democracy, including tolerating diversity," and that members "must be good neighbors and respect sovereignty outside their borders."
US President Donald J. Trump tends to state what many in the world are saying but few are willing publicly to express:
"I think allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very, very sad," he recently said. Standing next to UK Prime Minister Teresa May, he stated his conviction that European immigration policies are changing the "fabric of Europe" and destroying European culture.
It is a warning. Europe, in fact, is being flooded with millions of migrants, often from cultures that are openly anti-democratic.
Moreover, some Muslim leaders are encouraging immigrants to resist assimilation into European cultures. Such deliberate non-assimilation has created cultural clashes across Europe.
The reality is that fundamentalist Islamic cultures are, in many ways, at odds with secular Western values.
Regarding NATO, today's flood of immigrants may well eventually try to transform the heart of values and goals – "to safeguard the Allies' freedom and security by political and military means" -- that brought the NATO nations together in the first place.
Such political and cultural transformation of Europe seems quickly to be forming a huge cultural, social and political collision course at odds with European values. Such a possibility should no longer be considered a forbidden subject of "polite" conversation.
The founding NATO members originally came together in 1949 not only because they shared a "common threat" from the Soviet Union after World War II. They also joined forces because they shared cultural, political and economic goals -- and Judeo-Christian, humanistic values, all uniting factors and consistent with the values of NATO.
Loving one's native culture and feeling comfortable in it is normal. Western leaders have respected the rights of new immigrants to love the cultures from which they have come. But unfortunately, those same leaders are tearing apart their own cultures by turning love of one's own country into an unforgivable sin, when it is expressed by native citizens of Western countries. This trend needs to end.
Unless the leadership of Europe decides to stop the transformation of the continent with the same determination expressed by some extremist leaders that appear to want to transform it, its future is all too clear.
If the current trend of Islamization continues, it will not be long before politically correct Europe elects Muslim heads of State who demand adherence to sharia law and tolerance of jihad. Unlikely? Turkey, a NATO member since 1952, when it was a very different Turkey, has been increasingly radicalized for more than a decade by its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan has also been steadily abrogating NATO commitments, such as, "uphold[ing] democracy, including tolerating diversity," and that members "must be good neighbors and respect sovereignty outside their borders."
Turkey's democracy has been eroding and is now being called a "hollow democracy."
Tolerating diversity? Consider Turkey's genocide of Armenian Christians, and persecution and expulsions of Greek Christians. Currently, Turkey is holding an American pastor, Andrew Brunson (first in prison and now under house arrest), on charges of "dividing and separating [Turkey], by means of Christianization," as well as false charges of espionage.
In addition, in January 2018, Turkey invaded northwestern Syria and seized the Syrian city of Afrin, an act hardly commensurate with NATO's minimum requirements for membership, which say that member states "must be good neighbors and respect sovereignty outside their borders." Western civilization is at a crossroads. President Trump's warning to Europe could not have come at a more appropriate time. Turkey's recent policies and actions reflect how fragile NATO relations have become, due to the breaking down of the cohesive culture that brought NATO members together in the first place.
If gaps continue to grow between some of NATO's members in matters of cultural identity, values and vision, the US may well have to prepare for an uncertain future with NATO.
Turkey's recent policies and actions reflect how fragile NATO relations have become, due to the breaking down of the cohesive culture that brought NATO members together in the first place. Pictured: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg meets with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Mevlut Cavusoglu on April 16, 2018 in Turkey. (Image source: NATO/Flickr)
*Nonie Darwish, born and raised in Egypt, is the author of "Wholly Different; Why I Chose Biblical Values Over Islamic Values".
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.